817-382-0860

Music in Therapy

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased.

Pluck from memory a rooted sorrow.
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote,
Cleanse the full bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weights upon the hearts . . .

—William Shakespeare in Macbeth

These words, quoted in the book entitled The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell, seem a fitting description for the manner in which music conveys what clients most often cannot put into words. Music is an incredible tool that I commonly use with adolescents and sometimes adults in therapy. Music speaks deeply to our hearts and often puts words to our experiences in a way that nothing else can.

The Power of Music

I often ask clients for the name of their favorite song. When we watch the music video I ask why it’s their favorite. Clients often tell me they like the music or the beat but very rarely tell me that they identify with the words. The ironic thing is that most often clients aren’t even aware that their story is being told. The power of music is that it allows clients to tell their story in a manner that is not threatening or shaming like the actual verbalization of their experiences might be.

Music Tells a Story

Like some of my clients, after I hear a song that I like, I will often listen to it over and over. I listen so many times that I eventually tire of it. Telling our story in therapy is much like sifting flour and we keep sifting over and over until everything is smooth. We tell and often retell the story until it makes sense. We do the same thing as we replay a song again and again. We experience the stories of songs until they make sense. Music allows us to tell a story that we long to share.

Music Puts Words to Emotions and Experiences

Emeli Sandé, in the song Clown, wrote her own story about her experiences in the music industry. This particular song is incredibly touching because of the emotion that it evokes. I hear the depths of oppression and the struggle against the total and complete loss of self. I see the power differential and the struggle in the music video. Emeli Sande wrote the song about the music industry. But music, like poetry, art, and scripture speaks to us all in different ways. No matter how it speaks or what it says, it is moving and powerful. It puts words to emotions and experiences that are too deep to communicate.

When I ask clients for their favorite song the reply is often the same. They say, “I don’t really have one favorite. I like a lot of music.” I ask them to simply pick one. Most always, I hear lyrics placed on a melody which tells their exact narrative. An artist has given life to words and melodies that dance on the page and in their hearts.

I guess it’s funnier from where you’re standing

‘Cause from over here I miss the joke
Clear the way for my crash landing
I’ve done it again
Another number for your notes

I’d be smiling if I wasn’t so desperate

I’d be patient if I had the time
I could stop and answer all of your questions
As soon as I find out
How I can move from the back of a lie

I’ll be your clown

Behind the glass
Go ‘head and laugh
‘Cause it’s funny
I would too if I saw me
I’ll be your clown
On your favorite channel
My life’s a circus, circus
Round in circus
I’m selling out tonight

I’d be less angry if it was my decision

And the money was just rolling in
If I had more than my ambition
I’ll have time for please
I’ll have time for thank you
As soon as I win

I’ll be your clown

Behind the glass
Go ‘head and laugh
‘Cause it’s funny
I would too if I saw me
I’ll be your clown
On your favorite channel
My life’s a circus, circus
Round in circus
I’m selling out tonight

From a distance my choice is simple

From a distance I can entertain
So you can see me
I put makeup on my face
But there’s no way you can feel it
From so far away

I’ll be your clown

Behind the glass
Go ‘head and laugh
‘Cause it’s funny
I would too if I saw me
I’ll be your clown
On your favorite channel
My life’s a circus, circus
Round in circus
I’m selling out tonight

Cecily Rodgers

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *